If you’re looking for a short but sweet horror fix, pull up a seat by the pixel fire and get ready to dive into Bahnsen Knights. As the third creepy romp in LCB Game Studio’s “Pixel Pulp” series, this retro-flavored visual novel plops you smack dab into the middle of a sinister cult—and tasks you with bringing ’em down from the inside.
Just like the previous Pixel Pulp games Mothmen 1966 and Varney Lake, Bahnsen Knights blends choose-your-own-adventure storytelling with old-school pixel art and music straight outta the ’80s PC scene. This time around, you play a special agent going full Donnie Brasco to infiltrate a crew obsessed with Fords, backroads, and tornado “prophecies.” Spoiler alert: they’re baddies. Quests, tense conversations, trippy mini-games and moral dilemmas await as you dig for clues about your missing pal—and try not to get whacked yourself.
While it’s the capper to the series, Bahnsen Knights stands firmly on its own two creepy feet. So if you’re craving a short, replayable tale packing plenty of paranormal pulp and retro style, say hello to your newest late night guilty pleasure.
Twisters, Cultists, and Retro Mystery
With its ’80s Midwest setting, Bahnsen Knights tosses you headfirst into an American Gothic landscape plagued by deadly tornadoes. You’re no storm chaser though—you’re an undercover special agent trying to infiltrate a notorious cult called the Bahnsen Knights. The creepy crew seems to revolve around muscle cars, their dubious leader “Prophet Toni,” and religious mumbo jumbo about the highways and twisters pummeling the landscape. Oh, and they also may be connected to the disappearance of your old pal Cupra. So no pressure, right?
As far as storytelling goes, Bahnsen Knights lets you steer your own backroad path with its branching, choose-your-own-adventure style plots. Think classic pulp potboilers meet retro PC games. You won’t find finely tuned plotting or narrative momentum here; the tale meanders like the country roads it worships. But the environments themselves—decaying Midwestern towns, dive bars full of secrets, barnstormer vehicles cobbled together—overflow with eccentric characters and creepy lore to discover.
While the main villain and his tornado “prophecies” never quite materialize into anything coherent, the game sells its unhinged cult vibe beautifully. Like all good pulp yarns, it’s more about the evocative atmosphere and DIY spirit than logical story beats. From the hellfire skies to the fanatical Ford fanboys, Bahnsen Knights entangles you in its highway to Hell from the opening screen. Just don’t expect tidy answers or conclusions on the other side.
Drive, Investigate, Survive
At its core, Bahnsen Knights sticks to standard visual novel gameplay: read conversations, make key dialogue choices to steer the story, and occasionally get tossed into a mini-game mixer. Relationships with other characters hinge completely on your conversation choices and how you treat them. Make buds with the bartender or accidentally tick off the cult leader and…well, you can probably guess how that ends.
As an undercover agent, you’ll also need to gather intel and evidence to build a case against the Bahnsen baddies. Expect tense lockpicking sessions, rifling through private documents before you’re caught, and correctly tagging clues to the right suspects. Fail too many snooping missions or or assign evidence incorrectly and you’ll blow your cover completely.
Of course, no game about a murderous car crew would be complete without some vehicular action. At certain plot points, you’ll need to participate in deadly “road exorcisms,” street racing against traffic, or escaping tornadoes in a clunky Sierra hatchback. The retro racing controls keep things blessedly simple—turn, accelerate, brake—but provide white-knuckle action just the same.
More than anything though, Bahnsen Knights is about making choices and living (or not living) with the wild consequences. With so many dialogues, quick-time events, moral dilemmas and playable segments, no two playthroughs ever shake out quite the same. And with six possible endings to uncover, you’ll want to replay this bad boy more than a few times just to see where your choices lead. Whether you’re betraying friends, escaping death-defying car stunts, or unlocking hidden secrets, Bahnsen Knights emphasizes player agency from start to finish. Sure, you might die a lot…but in painfully interesting ways!
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Seeing Red in the Dark
One glimpse at Bahnsen Knights’ raging neon palette and blocky retro visuals, and you’ll feel instantly transported back to the golden CGA era of early PC games. The artists absolutely nailed that late ’80s computing vibe both aesthetically and technically. We’re talking lurid 8-bit scenes viewed through the scan lines and blur of analog monitors, chunky pixel character portraits that resemble EC horror comics, glitchy freeze frames and distortion effects when transitioning story beats. This is lo-fi, low-res glory captured perfectly.
And that slightly disorienting sense of visual alienation only amps up the ominous atmosphere coursing through each frame. Outside of a few police blue accents on paperwork or crime scene markers, Bahnsen Knight’s color scheme revolves almost entirely around a clashing combo of deep fuchsia and blood moon red. The titular cult adorns themselves and their beloved Ford Sierra fleet exclusively in crimson, their crossing-guard crosses splashed across white hoods and blacktop highways. Surrounding rural landscapes and abandoned towns desaturate into deeper shades of twilight purples and blacks.
The effect almost feels subliminally unsettling and off-kilter, like peering through tinted glasses that cast every scene in unnatural hues of danger. Paired with the simple animation style—mostly subtle parallax backgrounds and some glitchy character movements—you feel situated snugly behind a vintage monitor, glimpsing realities you shouldn’t see. It’s creepy, retro consumer tech used exactly as intended by LCB’s devs: delivering interactive pulp horror experiences through bleeding-edge old technology.
A Soundtrack for the End Times
Bahnsen Knights not only nails the retro visuals, but its lo-fi sound design perfectly matches the handcrafted pixel aesthetics. The music relies primarily on simple yet unnerving ambient tracks, featuring spare instrumentation and plenty of haunting drones, washes, and loops. It’s the audio equivalent of deserted highways disappearing into pitch darkness.
Appropriate for a game featuring deadly tornadoes, songs incorporate plenty of ominous industrial noise: the bass throbs of idling engines, the Doppler whine of metal ripping through wind, the crackle of dead radio signals struggling to break through atmospheric interference. Rather than just set dressing, sound works hand-in-hand with the visuals to deliver an interactive tonal experience.
And the further you drive off the main narrative path with errant choices, the more experimental the audio can become. Fail too many QuickTime events or piss off the wrong NPCs, and be prepared for hellish soundscapes of distortion as relationships, realities, and story outcomes break down.
In a nifty twist, the game dynamically mixes music queues based on your story choices and environments. Opt to hang out in the bartender’s roadhouse for intel-gathering, and the song seamlessly switches to original dive bar rock ‘n roll. Even the fictional albums lining the jukebox—presumably created by the devs—get their own hilariously-titled tunes.
No vintage game would be complete without retro digitized audio for dialogue and sound effects either. Bahnsen Knights delivers layers of bleeps, bloops, and distortion straight out of a Reagan-era 16-bit PC. It’s a glorious, glitchy, analog mess perfectly in tune with the game’s peanut butter aesthetic.
Keep On Choosing
At just two hours long per playthrough, Bahnsen Knights wisely avoids overstaying its welcome. But brevity also gives it tremendous replay value for anyone craving more cult-busting, road-ripping action. With so many dialogues, tough choices, fail states, and playable sequences packed tight into that short runtime, it’s impossible to see everything the game has to offer on your first investigation. Or even your fifth.
The branching storylines and myriad consequences to your choices make repeat visits feel fresh every time. Maybe you betrayed your bartender buddy on the last go-round and want to see where keeping him as an ally leads next. Perhaps you failed spectacularly at a certain mini-game previously and are itching to finally ace it and unlock a juicy hidden ending. Or you just miss those deadly road exorcisms demanding white-knuckle reflex challenges.
As you progress, special achievements will also reveal concept art, characters dossiers, and other bonus materials to pore over between replays. For completionists and pixel pulp enthusiasts, it’s engaging extra content worth the replay grind.
Even better, Bahnsen Knights neatly ties into earlier games in the Pixel Pulp Trilogy, with some returning locales and characters for long-time fans to spot. But nitro boost not required—newcomers can easily enjoy Bahnsen solo with no previous road rage or motel haunting required. Think of it like a double-feature midnight movie screening: totally rad standalone, but ultimately enhanced when experienced as part of the full grindhouse trilogy. Just beware that you also might just end up mainlining all three stories in a single white-knuckle weekend. Some horrors demand repeat visits after all…
With its compact creepshow runtime, gloriously glitchy low-res aesthetics, and emphasis on player freedom, Bahnsen Knights brings LCB Game Studio’s outstanding Pixel Pulp Trilogy to a killer close. Like an artifact dragged from an '80s PC time capsule and booting right into our modern horror hype cycles, it oozes retro nostalgia and avant-garde adventurousness in equally potent measure. Lacking narrative weight, it offers atmosphere and exploration galore courtesy of its fanatical Midwestern death cult worshipping at the analog altar of muscle cars and catastrophic weather. Some janky limitations in the user interface and lack of accessibility options inhibit total immersion at times. But with so many abnormal secrets lurking behind every phosphor dot, fascinatingly flawed code alone makes the Bahnsen crew worth joining...at least until the credits roll and you dust off for the next small-town occult detour!
- Immersive retro graphics and sound design create tense atmosphere
- Emphasis on player choice drives interesting narratives
- Tightly paced for replayability at around 2 hours
- Strong cult and character backstories bolster main plot
- Innovative mix of gameplay formats and mechanics
- Accessibility options quite limited
- Central mystery lacks depth and momentum
- Some punishing fail states and controls
- Not newcomer friendly to whole Pixel Pulp series
- Weak explanation of wider game world and lore